Mumbai: With corporate social responsibility (CSR) becoming a legal mandate, a study has found that a large majority (81 per cent) of domestic companies identify education as the top core area for their sustainability activities.
Three out of four domestic companies already have a core CSR team in place or plan to have one in the next couple of years, while 58 per cent of them have an annual centralised budget for sustainability activities, says a survey conducted by Mercer, a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments.
"Among the CSR activities education tops the chart with 81 per cent adopting this as their mandate, followed by 64 per cent focusing on community-based developmental activities and 61 per cent adopting environmental sustainability within their own companies," says the Mercer survey.
According to the findings, as much as 78 per cent conduct their CSR by partnering with a local, independent NGOs, and only 17 percent work with their own NGOs.
As part of its law-based affirmative action, the previous UPA government had included a clause in the Companies Act of 2013 which mandated a compulsory two per cent of a company's net income being spent on CSR.
The recent survey was conducted among top 40 companies and found that 81 per cent of the polled companies feel that CSR is an extremely important component for business strategy.
The survey has found 17 per cent have been running CSR activities even before the law mandated them to do so, while 10 per cent of respondents do not undertake any CSR activities.
Of those conducting CSR activities, 54 per cent have a CSR/sustainability policy for a period of up to five years and 46 per cent have CSR policy of longer period.
"With dedicated CSR teams in place and companies stating that employee volunteering will be involved in their corporate citizenship projects, India is surely striding in the right direction down the sustainability path," says Mercer India business leader Shanthi Naresh said.